For me, the term left-overs has negative connotations, something that is unconsumed, unused and maybe discarded.
Not so in my household. No food wastage.
For those times when I cook more than we can eat, leftovers are never wasted.
If the amount of leftovers seems too small to save, they are eaten there and then. (I know overeating is not necessarily a good thing). If there are slightly bigger amounts of a dish uneaten, they are saved as a snack for lunch. More substantial quantities are either frozen for another time or – even better – reconstituted and transformed into something else.
This is something that I really enjoy doing. I like the challenge of compounding the ingredients, devising new flavours.
The easiest ways for using leftovers are in a soup, or making a frittata (as above).
I like making what the French call a salade composée, ie a made up salad, using a number of ingredients – usually a mixture of cooked and raw ingredients. The photo below is of mixed salad leaves, mayonnaise, olives and left over rabbit.
Here are other ways I have recently used left overs creatively.
Pasta Con Il Cavolo Coppuccio Rosso, Pasta With Red Cabbage.
Below is a composition using leftover braised red cabbage. All I did was sauté some pancetta (or speck), added the left over braised cabbage that had been a contorno – a side dish cooked with a mixture of red onions, a splash of red wine and red vinegar, bay leaves, salt and black pepper. The odd Juniper berry or caraway seed doesn’t go astray either. On this occasion I used wholemeal pasta, if I had some rye pasta at home I would have preferred this, this being in keeping with the braised red cabbage that is especially common in the very north of Italy.
I had some left over pork and fennel Italian sausages intended to be stuffed in a bread roll, but I changed my mind when I found some vegetables that looked like tiny red kale. The quantities were too small to use on their own so I combined them with the sausages to make a pasta dish.
The vegetables are called kalettes. I was interstate when I bought these and hopefully I will be able to also find some in Melbourne.
From the web: Kalettes taste slightly nutty, milder than kale and less earthy than Brussels sprouts. Unlike kale, which has big, wide leaves, Kalettes’ leaves are small and curly with green sprouts. They are high in vitamins C and K.
Once I sautéed the kalettes in some extra virgin oil and some garlic, I also added some fennel seeds, a splash of red wine and while the wine evaporated the vegetables softened. If they had been too crunchy I would have added some water and covered them with a lid while they softened. Some toasted pine nuts and pecorino to finished off the pasta dish . Of course the kalettes could have been substituted with broccoli or cime di rapa.
And this is what I did with some left over humus that I had when friends dropped in unexpectedly.
In the fridge I also had some left over cooked chickpeas. After covering the humus with the chickpeas I surrounded the centre piece with green leaves – watercress, nasturtium and some red lettuce leaves, a little chopped spring onion, a vinaigrette and some feta. They thought it was pretty good.
What about the leftover chicken breasts I cooked with mustard sauce for Bastille Day?
I braised some fennel with parsley, garlic, butter, stock and white wine and covered the contents with a lid until the fennel was cooked. I added the chicken and served it with creamy mashed potatoes and parsnips.
I have some beef spezzatino (braise/stew) cooked with bay leaves and white wine in the fridge from a couple of nights ago and I have yet to reinvent this.
We ate the carrots so there are none in the leftovers. I may braise some mushrooms with parsley and garlic and once they are cooked I could add the left over meat and present it with polenta.
Or maybe to the meat I will add some cooked, cannellini beans sautéed with garlic and parsley, or perhaps borlotti and speck. There will not be leftovers.